FAA counters Mepa chairman's claims - http://www.timesofmalta.com/
Saturday, June 16, 2007

Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) has reacted to comments made by Malta Environment and Planning Authority chairman Andrew Calleja on the NGO's criticism over the recently-approved Ramla l-Hamra tourist complex project.

The NGO said it had done its best to avoid confrontation on this issue, however, despite Mepa's "purported" consultation ethic, the authority ignored the reasonable requests of FAA and other NGOs as well as that of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, to simply postpone the decision pending further investigation.

The authority's decision came in for a barrage of criticism from environment NGOs, the superintendence and the Xaghra local council, which claimed serious irregularities in the process after Mepa flashed the green light last Wednesday for the building of 23 self-catering villa-style tourist units close to Ulysses Lodge.

Mr Calleja reacted strongly, declaring a boycott against the FAA.

The NGO referred to Mr Calleja's claim that no criticism had been raised at the development's outline application stage.

Just because an application was "freely available" it did not necessarily mean that the public, or an NGO, would automatically know about a project report unless alerted to it in some way or another. That an application had been made for the tourist complex at Ramla l-Hamra was not widely known until the proceedings had reached a late stage, the NGO said.

"This is why the waiving of an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is so serious. Not only does an EIA ensure a professional study of the effects that a development is going to have on the heritage, ecology and human community, but it also ensures that the project reports reach the public through consultation, which does not necessarily happen if an EIA is waived," it said.

As for the chairman's second claim that the "no interest was shown at the time by FAA to view the application's Project Description Statement", the NGO said that when it asked to see the case file, only the case officer's report was available.

"Had we been allowed to see the Project Description Statement (PDS) would it not have been listed together with that of the case officer's report? This may have been a genuine oversight on the official's part, but it was certainly not due to lack of interest on our part," it said.
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16 Jun 2007 by Saveramla.com